You’ve surely heard that you should brush your teeth twice a day. But how often do you really need to?
Michael Sesemann, DDS, says that, while twice a day is the minimum, “three times a day is best.” More than three times a day, and you can actually damage your gums and enamel. The American Dental Association agrees: at least twice a day.
Maybe more importantly, not all tooth-brushing sessions are the same. It doesn’t count as “brushing your teeth” if you sprint into the bathroom in the morning, spend five seconds brushing your front teeth, and run out the door. Dr. Sesemann says that, every time you brush your teeth, you should take at least two minutes. One way to keep track is “to divide your mouth into four sections and spend 30 seconds on each.”
Dr. Sesemann also says that most people don’t meet this minimum. One thing you can do to make sure you’re brushing your teeth for long enough is to pick a song to listen to while you do it—most songs are at least two minutes long. Apparently, Dr. Sesemann watches TV while he brushes!
Another useful tip is to time when you brush your teeth around when you consume acidic food or drink. Acid can weaken the enamel on your teeth, and brushing while the acid is still in your mouth can actually wear away the enamel more quickly. As dentist Jeffery M. Cole, the former president of the Academy of General Dentistry, told the Wall Street Journal, “When you want to make etched glass, you apply an acid or an abrasive and scratch it—that is what happens if you drink a sports drink or a soda, or even wine, and brush right after.” Rinsing your mouth out with water can do more than brushing to help your teeth right after eating or drinking something acidic.
Dr. Cole says that if you have to brush your teeth only once, “bedtime is best, since that is when your mouth salivates less, allowing cavity-causing substances to take hold.” But he agrees: twice a day is far better. And make sure to schedule regular cleaning sessions with your dentist! If you’re in the Matthews-Weddington area, why not stop by Serene Dental Spa for your next appointment?